Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter Solstice, Jupiter, Venus

Hi Y'all,

Now that the snow storm is behind us, it is time for winter to officially begin. The solstice will be tomorrow, Saturday night at  19:11 Israel time. Literally "Sun stop", the solstice is when the apparent motion of the Sun to the south stops and the sun turns to come back north. It is also the shortest day of the year, and thus will also be the shortest Shabbat of the year. We astronomers have a special warm feeling for this day, as it is also the night with the longest opportunity to watch the stars!

Aside from the bright winter constellations now rising in the east after sunset, we have a new visitor, namely Jupiter. As king of the planets in size, Jupiter is also the 2nd brightest, right after Venus. You may have noticed Jupiter as that bright "star" hanging near the nearly full moon the past few nights. But as the moon speeds in it's orbit around us hear on earth, it will leave Jupiter to shine alone impressively next to the bright stars of Orion, Gemin and Sirius.

I hope you have all been enjoying the bright show of Venus in the west for the past 11 months or so. This month Venus is at it brightest and highest, but paradoxically it will soon dive down to the horizon, and disappear in the glare of the Sun by months end. It will reappear a week later, but only for those who get up early on frosty mornings, to see it rise just before the sun.

As Venus sets about an hour  and a 1/2 after sunset, Jupiter will be rising opposite in the sky,  low in the east. By 8:00pm it should be high enough to easily spot. Although it will be in good company near the  bright stars of winter it will outshine them, and be easy to pick out.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Stay up to date with the Sun, planets and stars.
 Subscribe to AstroTom with an email to:

No comments:

Post a Comment